1. H Chad Lane
  2. http://hchadlane.net
  3. Associate Professor
  5. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  1. Neil Comins
  2. http://members.authorsguild.net/nfcomins/
  3. Professor
  5. University of Maine
  1. Jorge Perez-Gallego
  2. https://www.frostscience.org/team_member/dr-jorge-perez-gallego/
  3. Curator of Astronomy
  5. Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science
  1. Sherry Yi
  2. http://sherryyi.com
  3. Graduate Student
  5. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Fostering Interest in Science through Interactive Exploration of Astronomy Wh...

NSF Awards: 1713609

2018 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8, Informal / multi-age

What would the Earth be like if there was no moon? What if the Earth were further from the sun? Could life exist under these, and other different cosmic circumstances? Our video presents a series of Minecraft maps that allow kids to explore these questions directly, to make observations, and provide their own explanations for why things would be different. Our work is framed by research on interest development, and our mods designed to act as triggers for interest in Astronomy, Earth Science, and more. Minecraft is a unique game in that it allows children to experience a wide range of STEM-related topics, to express their understanding, and interact with peers. We are using at as a vehicle to allow kids to push their imaginations to the limit and think about important questions related to how lucky we are Earth is the way it is, why it is that way, what it takes to sustain life, and what we need to look for the search for habitable exoplanets presses on.

Our project is a collaboration between the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (PI, H. Chad Lane, a learning sciences researcher), the University of Maine (Co-PI Neil Comins, an astronomer who explored What-If scenarios extensively in his career), and The Frost Museum of Science in Miami (Co-PI Jorge Perez-Gallego, astronomer and educator).

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